Historian writes book on Destin fishing legend

Special to The Log
Capt. Trammell and his deckhand with a white marlin. [SPECIAL TO THE LOG]

Local historian and retired pilot Claude Newland has written a book about one of Destin’s many fishing legends, charter boat Capt. Jimmy Trammell.

Newland, who lives with his wife, Tona (Trammell) in Destin, is also the author of two other family history books as well as the editor of his Vietnam Forward Air Controller Unit’s history, “The Rustics — A Top Secret War in Cambodia.” For his newest book, Newland has spent the past 10 years preparing the manuscript from interviews with Capt. Trammell, his father-in-law. Newland has also interviewed other charter boat captains, deckhands, and Destin residents who have provided first-hand stories about Capt. Trammell.

Capt. Trammell’s life is a classic America story. He was a Texas farm boy from a family of 14 children whose family had it rough during the depression. When WWII came along, he volunteered for the Army Air Corp as soon as he turned 18. He eventually found himself at Eglin AAF where he met and married Doris Isabelle Marler, the daughter of David H. and Stella (Maltezos) Marler, descendants of two of Destin’s founding families that were widely known for their boat-building and fishing skills. Doris Trammell’s grandfather, William T. Marler, was Destin’s first postmaster and he named the city of Destin.

Following World War II, Capt. Trammell became part of a small pioneering group of resilient and resourceful fishermen who helped establish Destin as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” He and others formed Destin’s small fledgling charter boat fleet when “fishing for hire” was just getting started. Like Capt. Trammell, many of them were self-made men. They, along with their wives, formed the backbone of the community and helped lay the foundation for a growing and prosperous Destin.

Capt. Jimmy, as he was called, directly influenced the lives of many, including a host of young men in Destin who went on to become some of Destin’s finest charter boat captains. Like all fishermen, he also has a few good stories to tell.

In the book, Capt. Trammell recounts his formative years growing up in Texas, he provides an insider’s account of what it was like to be a charter boat captain and how the industry has changed over the years. He also introduces many of the people and events that helped shape Destin as we know it today.

Newland plans to unveil his new book and have it available at Destin’s annual Founders’ Day celebration and fish fry from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 13 at the Destin Community Center. The book will also be available at the Destin History and Fishing Museum or can be ordered at www.lulu.com, Search for the title, “Captain Jim Trammell.”